Haida Gwaii (once named the Queen Charlotte Islands) are one of the richest biological and cultural areas in North America. This remote archipelago provides unparalleled wilderness cruising and exploring. Aboard our 68 sailing vessel, we will see ancient native Haida villages, an incredible abundance of wildlife and outstanding wilderness scenery. Our trips primarily explore the eastern and southern shores of Moresby Island, and area called Gwaii Haanas.
Haida Gwaii is home to some remarkable "old-growth" forests with giant stands of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, red and yellow cedar. The coastal rain forests of the Pacific Northwest - reaching a zenith in these islands - hold the largest accumulation of biomass (living matter) on the planet, even more than tropical rain forests. The forest floors are deeply carpeted with hundreds of species of mosses, salal bushes, huckleberry, and ferns. One of the fascinating ecological aspects is that the alpine zone almost reaches the ocean in many areas here.
This is a fabulous area with over 100 islands, beautiful forested creek walks, rugged exposed headlands, and protected passageways between towering mountains. Theories suggest that parts of Haida Gwaii escaped the last ice age, forming a glacier refuge for certain forms of plant and animal life. How else to explain the presence of plant species found nowhere else in the world, and noticeably different sub-species of bird, fish and mammal? Haida Gwaii provide a remarkable evolutionary showcase - thus, their description as the "Canadian Galapagos".
A small-ship cruise through Haida Gwaii allows guests to get up close to nature. Haida Gwaii is home to some remarkable "old-growth" forests with giant stands of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, red and yellow cedar. The coastal rain forests of the Pacific Northwest - reaching a zenith in these islands - hold the largest accumulation of biomass (living matter) on the planet, even more than tropical rain forests. The forest floors are deeply carpeted with hundreds of species of mosses, salal bushes, huckleberry, and ferns. One of the fascinating ecological aspects is that the alpine zone almost reaches the ocean in many areas here.
Tidal changes of up to 23 feet between high and low tide create remarkably rich shoreline marine life. A highlight of the Gwaii Haanas/ South Moresby region is Burnaby Narrows, a 150 foot wide channel connecting the waters of Juan Perez Sound and Skincuttle Inlet. With our naturalist we explore in
tertidal areas to find many varieties of sea stars, giant barnacles, mussels, clams, snails, urchins, crabs, sponges, chitons, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs and a wealth of other colourful and interesting creatures. We often float through the shallow waters observing the variety of life just beneath the surface.
Sail the islands and tour the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve aboard the Island Roamer. These 9 day eco-tour adventures in British Columbia through Gwaii Haanas are fascinating journeys through a past full of rich history.
2019 & 2020 Departure Dates and Costs
It is essential that reservations are made well in advance – limited availability
June 22 - 30 - limited space
Cost: $ 6,200 CAD / $ 4,960 USD (plus 5% gst)
2020 Departures (Island Roamer)
May 30 - June 7; June 8 - 16; June 16 - 24; June 24 - July 2
Cost: $ 6,400 CAD / $ 5,120 USD (plus 5% gst)
2020 Departures (Maple Leaf)
June 6 - 14; June 14 - 22; June 23 - July 1; July 1 - 9; July 9 - 17
Cost: $ 6,600 CAD / $ 5,350 USD (plus 5% gst)
$100 Sustainability Fee included
Departure Point: Sandspit, Queen Charlotte Island (Haida Gwaii)
Approximate airfare from Vancouver - Sandspit $ 550 CAD per person. Maximum participants is 15.
Prices based on twin share. There is no single supplement as there are no single cabins on the boat. Single travelers will share with a cabin mate.
Arrival day. Accommodation provided in Sandspit.
We will be taken by charter bus to the ferry landing and across to Skidegate on Graham Island. Please make sure you have appropriate items for the afternoon activities, including sturdy footwear, a water bottle and a rain jacket, if necessary. Activities for the day include a visit to the Haida Gwaii Museum, renowned for its collection of Haida artifacts, and the new Qay'llnagaay Centre with its six new totem poles. We may walk a local trail to learn about local flora and their native use. The first evening you will be hosted by a Skidegate family to a traditional Haida meal. After, we will be transfer to Moresby Camp, where you board the "Island Roamer." There will be introductions, a safety orientation and cabin assignments before venturing into the Gwaii Haanas/South Moresby wilderness. We will anchor nearby.
Day 3 to 9
We will spend our time exploring the eastern and southern shores of Moresby Island. Daily activities include wildlife watching, shore excursions to explore beautiful forested creek walks, ancient Haida villages and perhaps exploring the shoreline by kayak. We visit SGaang Gwaii (Ninstints), which has been designated as a United Nations World Heritage Site. We stop at Hotspring Island for a warm, soothing, relaxing dip. Each evening we will anchor in a different secluded spot in time for slide shows and discussions on the wildlife sightings encountered during the day. The daily itinerary is flexible to meet group interests, weather patterns and to take full advantage of wildlife sightings.
On the final day, guests will disembark approximately 8am from Island Roamer at Moresby Camp and transferred by charter bus to Sandspit airport. The trip by bus takes about one hour. You can expect to be in Sandspit in time to take the morning departing flight to Vancouver. If you are not flying to Vancouver you can make easy connections to ferries or rent a car and continue your holidays in Haida Gwaii.
What is included
- All meals from lunch on the first day to breakfast on the last day
- Accommodation onboard ship
- Skipper, cook, naturalist; full use of all onboard facilities
What is not included
- Transportation to the start point and from the finish point of the trip
- Accommodation or meals prior to the start of the trip or after the completion
- Travel or cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
- Airport transfers and applicable taxes
- The only money participants require during the trip is for optional purchases and gratuities for the crew
If the trip is delayed because of bad weather, canceled or delayed flights or delays on other modes of transport, sickness or other situations for which we or our agents cannot make provisions, the cost is not included.
Your Crew & Guides
The captain, the crew, and expert naturalists or native interpreters, love to share their knowledge of natural and cultural history. Since interpretation of the environment is a focus of our trips, we will have informative walks in intertidal zones, forest "undercanopies" and sub-alpine areas, exploring in detail the life we encounter along the way. Smaller boats and small group sizes allow us to get close to nature in all her abundance. Small boats can float silently among the whales. Small groups can watch in awe as a bear feeds on a salmon. We enjoy the flexibility to change our plans spontaneously for an unexpected wildlife sighting. Each day is full- walks ashore, exploring by small boats, voyaging island to island, then anchoring each night in a new secluded bay.
The ISLAND ROAMER
The Island Roamer sleeps 16 passengers in 8 private cabins (double occupancy). She is a certified by Ministry of Transportation passenger vessel with all of the safety equipment, electronic navigation aids, and features you would expect from a vessel of her standard. Two inflatable are used for shore excursions, and stable two person kayaks are also available. Smoking is not permitted onboard. Maximum number of participants: 15 guests, plus crew.
Our cook is skillful in the preparation of a well balanced, wholesome, tasty meals. As often as possible, we dine on fresh seafood including salmon, ling cod and crab. Wine is often served with dinner. If you have particular dietary restrictions (e.g. vegetarian, allergies) please let us know well in advance and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Weather is variable and often changes quickly. Summer daytime temperatures generally range between 16-25'C (60-75'F); evenings are cooler. The water temperature remains close to 8'C (48'F) year-round. Extended periods of rain are unusual, but possible, and mornings may be foggy. While guests should come well prepared for rain and gusty winds, we generally have lots of sunshine.
5 on-board kayaks provide guests with the opportunity to paddle these scenic waters.
People participate for many reasons - natural history, scenery, anthropology, photography and relaxation. Throughout the tour it is entirely your choice whether to follow the naturalist on a field trip or stay behind and read a book. It is our experience that people usually choose to mix education with fun and relaxation. Surprisingly, people with no previous interest or background in natural history often find themselves staring intently into a tidepool or looking up more information on the Haida. This is not a physically demanding trip. The amount of physical activity expected during your expedition will be walking with your day pack 0.5 - 2 miles per day, over a variety of terrain. Suggested footwear will enable a person with average physical abilities to comfortably negotiate intertidal areas, streams, rough trails, rocky surfaces, and hot sand beaches. If you normally wear shoes or boots that provides ankle support while walking, we encourage you to bring such footwear. To minimize impact on the sensitive areas we will be visiting however, we discourage heavy lug soled boots. For guests craving greater physical challenge there will be opportunities such as hiking further, running along beautiful sand beaches, or collecting and chopping fire wood.
Your safety while participating in this expedition is one of our prime concerns and therefore we provide you with the best equipment and extremely competent guides. The captain is Ministry of Transportation certified and trained in Marine Emergency Duties. The crew and guides are trained in first aid techniques, and well experienced in this environment. Ultimately the captain and your guide make decisions with your comfort and safety in mind, yet tries to maximize the experience of the adventure for each individual. We must stress that listening to instructions and directions given by the guide is your ultimate responsibility and in the best interest of yourself and the group. The expedition is equipped with a VHF radio communication for logistics and emergency transmissions.
The trip begins and ends at the town of Sandspit in HaidaGwaii. Air Canada supplies the community with one daily flight from Vancouver. During the mid-summer, Air Canada has 2 flights. Sandspit is also accessible by B.C. Ferry with scheduled service between Prince Rupert and Skidegate/Queen Charlotte City about 4-5 times weekly. A smaller ferry running frequently during the day connects Skidegate/Queen Charlotte City on Graham Island to Sandspit.
A list of recommended personal gear and clothing, accommodation and travel information, and a liability waiver and medical form will be sent when we receive your booking.